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|Violin||R K Shriram Kumar|
The Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis
It is no exaggeration to say that the kritis designated the Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis are among the most magnificent created by Muthuswami Dikshithar. This series of 11 kritis consists of a dhyana kriti at the beginning and a mangala kriti at the end with nine kritis addressing the nine avaranas of the Sri Chakra yantra.
The worship of Gods and Goddesses could be in the form of worship through mantra or through tantra. Mantra worship consists of using the appropriate sounds (the mantras which our Sages obtained as the primordial sounds emanating from space) to invoke and please the Gods. Tantra worship, not commonly practiced, is a silent form of worship where gestures are used instead of vocal invocations. In either case, it is common practice to invoke the presence of the Gods by tracing out the appropriate yantra on the ground and then placing the idol on the yantra or treating the yantra itself as the representation of the Gods.
Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Siva, is considered to be embodied by the Sri Chakra. Each of the nine avaranas of the Sri Chakra has a name and is associated with chakras, yoginis, manovriddhis, chakreswaris and shakthis. Only a devotee (upasaka), initiated into the practice of worship (upasana) by a guru, fully understands the meaning and power of these.
In the first avarana kriti, Kamalamba Samrakshatu mam in Raga Anandabhairavi, the charanam begins with Tripuradi Chakreswari, immediately telling us that the first avarana?s chakra is named tripura. The next words Animadi Siddhiswari indicate that the shaktis associated with it are the ten siddhis beginning with Anima. The phrase trilokya mohana chakravarthini refers to the trilokya mohana chakra of the first avarana. The words prakata yogini refers to the name of the yogini of this avarana.
In the second kriti, Kamalambam Bhajare in Raga Kalyani, Goddess Kamalamba is described as the Ishwari of the sarvasha paripuraka chakra and the embodiment of the sixteen shaktis beginning with kamakarshini. Not content with describing the second avarana of the Sri Chakram, Sri Dikshithar calls the Goddess Bhandasura Bhanjani. This is a reference to the legend associated with Tiruvarur. Brahma and Vishnu, compassionately responding to Manmatha?s wife Rati?s pleas, gave life to the ashes to which Manmatha had been reduced by Lord Siva. Siva in his anger cursed that this revived form of Manmatha become a demon (asura) named Bhanda and cause trouble to Brahma, Vishnu and other celestial beings. Chastised by this, they requested Siva to destroy Bhanda. Siva performed a yagna in Tiruvarur and Parvathi emerged from the sacrificial fire and slew Bhandasura. It is the genius of Sri Dikshithar that he could bring out this legend by using just two words.
In the fourth kriti, Kamalambikayai in Raga Kambodhi, Dikshithar refers to the Goddess as karpura veetikayai.- A refernce to everything that is auspicious and fragrant. One has to wonder whether this is not a reference to the Lalitha Sahasranama where the Goddess is described as karpura veetika moda.
In the fifth avarana, he depicts Devi as the greatest who is also served by Parvati and Saraswati.
In the sixth kriti, Dikshitar refers to Devi as sangita rasika. She revels in music.
Devi is described here as Kalpa Vatika in the seventh kriti. She bears a Veena in her hands - kara dhrta vina vadinyam.
Each one of the nava avarana kritis is full of such details. What is amazing is that the secrets associated with devi upasana are cleverly woven into the sahitya. Interestingly, the first eight of the avarana kritis are in the eight cases (much like the vibhakti series of kritis use sequentially the eight cases of Sanskrit grammar) and the ninth uses all eight cases!
t is reported that Muthuswamy Dikshithar used to compose his kritis in front of the deities as he visited various temples. Our rational minds cannot easily comprehend how it was possible for Sri Dikshithar to combine majestic diction, details of the Sri Chakra, proper rhyming (prasam), legends about Kamalamba/Parvati, references to te Lalitha Sahasranama, Sanskrit grammar, and effortlessly fit it all into the musical phrases of raga chosen for the kriti. Bereft of logical explanation, we eagerly grasp at the possibility that these kritis were Divinely inspired, that Goddess Kamalamba Herself transmitted a simplified form of Devi upasana for our busy times in the form of the nava avarana kritis through Sri Dikshithar, for it is said that singing or even listening to these kritis with devotion is sufficient to obtain salvation.